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(6) Parents & Kids

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.”  

- Edith Wharton 

How Do Great Parents and Excellent Teachers Inspire Cooperation in children and kids?

Children and Parents

Co-operation Is a Two-Way Street

Together we can be wiser than any of us can be alone. We need to know how to tap that wisdom.

—Tom Atlee

It turns out that many parents, instead of thinking of co-operation as a two-way working relationship with their kids, think of it as a one-way street where kids do what parents want them to do.

When kids don’t do what is expected, they are called uncooperative, and from that point on the situation can easily turn into name-calling, criticizing, blaming, arguing, and fighting. Later attempts to patch things up often resort to compromises, negotiations, and bargaining, which rarely meet anybody’s needs fully.

 Explore for Yourself

What does the word co-operate mean to you? Have you ever said something to your child like the following?

Your room is a mess; I want you to clean it up before you go to the game. Have you then wondered why she didn’t do what she was told to do, right away and with a smile? You made a unilateral decision, and she was expected to carry it out according to your time frame and standards.

Because, After all, I’m the parent! This attitude, however, fails to consider the child’s point of view. When you neglect to consider your child’s thoughts, feelings, needs, and possible solutions to getting the room cleaned, you do so at the risk of losing her respect and goodwill. Your child’s grumbling resistance is, in effect, a natural consequence of your choice to operate without her input. The co-in co-operate means together, as in co-creator, co-author, and co-worker. Oper means to work, so co-operate means to work together.

True co-operation is not something you can mandate. When there is no togetherness in the operation of a home-as in mutual agreement about rules that affect a child’s life as well as mutual problem solving and decision making-then you can expect the following natural consequences: resistance, arguments, hurt feelings, battles of will, and reliance on punishments and rewards.

A fundamental law of human relations is: No coin the household operations leads to resistance, which leads to punishments and rewards to force compliance, which leads to further resistance, and so forth. Parents who leave out the co- in their household operations are destined to reap the consequences of this omission. If you aren’t working with your children, they aren’t going to want to work with you.

A young woman shared this story with us: Her father used to make her clean her room to very strict specifications; he even lifted up the edge of the carpet in an otherwise clean room and punished her if she had failed to sweep up a few crumbs. The more he insisted that things be done his way, the more she was filled with hostility and resistance.

She cleaned her room because she was afraid of her father and feared what would happen if she didn’t. It was cleaned with spite rather than the desire to co-operate and contribute to the smooth functioning of the home.

How different might this situation have been if she and her father had agreed upon standards together? If she had been included in deciding whether or not the room was clean?

 

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